An Article by Manya Gugnani
"Young people are a wellspring of ideas for innovation. They
are today's thinkers, problem-solvers and catalysts for peace. They are often
the world's strongest advocates of justice and dignity. But they need good
jobs, quality education and access to culture for all. They need to be heard
and they need to be included".
-Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General
As we approach the UN's International Youth Day on August 12, we
focus on the young people who do, deliver and support the Award worldwide.
International Youth Day recognizes and celebrates young people
and the contribution they make to society, many of them doing this through
the Award. This year's theme for International Youth Day is 'Youth
Migration: Moving Forward', how it unites people from different backgrounds,
abilities and cultures. We at IAYP India have been doing our bit to promote
social inclusion through the Award.
The Special Project was launched in 1999 in collaboration with
various well-established NGOs to empower the disadvantaged youth from
underprivileged sections of society to realize their potential, build their
confidence and work towards achieving their goals. The Special Project units
aim at harnessing the potential of young people from socially isolated sections
of the society and providing them the necessary resources to complete the Award
programme. We, at IAYP, believe that everybody deserves a chance. This is
exactly what the Special Project aims to do. In this task, the Indian Award Programme
was assisted by a supporting grant from the International Special Projects.
Over 3000 young people and 13 educational institutions are
participating in the Special Projects programme on an equal footing. The
programme is extremely popular with young people of both sexes and at times it
is difficult to cope with their enthusiasm to join the Award Programme in all
Vicky Roy hails from Purulia in West Bengal. He ran away from home
in 1999 at the age of 11 years, and hitched a train ride to Delhi. He joined a
pack of children living off the streets, and earned a meal by collecting
discarded plastic bottles. After six months of almost daily abuse, he left the
railway station, and went to work in a street food stall (dhabha). Here
he washed dishes, and was given food in return.
An open door
A former member from our partner organisation, the Salaam Balak Trust, found
him and opened a door to a better life. The Trust encouraged him to take up the
Award Programme. He did so, and studied photography for his Skills section. His
talent for taking photographs was soon noticed and he was sent to the Triveni
Kala Sangam for training. He studied under British photographer Dixie Benjamin,
and is currently an apprentice with Delhi based photographer Anay Mann. Vicky
has had a solo exhibition of his work at the Experimental Art Gallery of the
India Habitat Centre, Delhi, and has also exhibited in the UK.
Vicky grabbed the opportunities offered by the Award in India. In
a recent interview with the BBC 's Alice Beer, he spoke of the support and warm
encouragement he got in taking photography as a Skill, and how Award
expeditions opened his eyes to a world beyond the mean streets. Vicky partnered
a blind participant from the Blind Boy's Academy in Narendrapur, Kolkata during
his Residential Project. He had to describe nature to his partner as they
walked, and was amazed at this new way of looking at things. He watched these
visually handicapped young people stride ahead in confidence, and realized they
were role models to village families who hid their sightless children in the
dark corners of their homes.
Vicky says, "Without the challenge of the Award,
I would still be washing dishes. Today, my eyes are open to the endless
possibilities that life offers. The Award has given me the confidence to grab
- Vicky Roy, Gold Award holder & international photographer
What can you do on International Youth Day?
To commemorate the Day, you are encouraged to organize events or
activities in your community. Please share your commemoration with the world!
Send in a description of your planned activities to email@example.com.
The most creative activities will be featured on the
United Nations website to provide a sense of how International Youth Day is
being celebrated around the world!
Below, some ideas about what you can do in you
community and how you can effectively spread the message:
Educational radio or TV show Contact popular local/national radio or TV stations to
request a slot to have a discussion with distinguished individuals and youth
Organize a public meeting or debate to discuss the risks and benefits of youth migration and
the innovative ways youth can tackle the challenges of migration at the local,
national, and international level.
Organize a Google+ Hangout to bring together young people and relevant stakeholders from
all over the world to discuss experiences of youth migration.
Initiate round table discussions among adults and young people to promote
inter-generational understanding and partnerships on the issue of youth
Organize a youth forum to exchange ideas and discuss the social, economic and cultural backgrounds
of migrants in order to help young people accept others and popularize a
culture of non-violence and tolerance.
Organize a concert on youth migration and
development to promote International Youth
Day. Invite your local musicians and combine it with a panel discussion or
invite a politician or policy maker to hold the keynote speech.
Create an "info point" about youth
migration-related issues in the center of
town/village, at high schools, or at university centers.
Organize an exhibition Get permission to use a public space for an arts exhibit,
which showcases the challenges of young migrants today or how young migrants
including returnees are contributing to development at home and abroad. Try to
involve young people in the domains of culture, arts and music, to raise
awareness on youth migration related issues.
Write to your minister of youth to inform him or her about the challenges young
migrants, potential youth migrants and other youth face in their daily lives
and to suggest solutions.